New GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report Shows Female Nonprofit Leaders Lost Ground in Fiscal Year 2008

10th annual compensation report provides comprehensive data on nonprofit compensation according to size, budget, program area, and geography
Release date: September 23, 2010

compensation reportWashington, D.C., and Williamsburg, Va.—GuideStar USA, Inc. today released its 10th annual GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report, the only large-scale analysis of its kind that relies exclusively on data reported to the IRS. The report showed that the gender gap, which in previous years had narrowed, actually increased in fiscal year 2008. Overall, women held 48 percent of the positions reported upon (an increase of 1 percentage point over 2007) but received only 29 percent of the total compensation, down from 35 percent in 2007.

The 2010 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report is an extensive review of key employee compensation practices across the entire GuideStar database of digitized IRS Form 990 information of approximately 100,000 charitable nonprofit organizations for fiscal year 2008.

"Charitable organizations are out there every day doing great work," said Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of GuideStar. "Our report is a useful tool for nonprofit boards and managers to establish and benchmark compensation ranges that will attract and retain skillful employees, which ultimately lead to higher performing nonprofits. Donors and other stakeholders need to see these benchmarks when seeking effective nonprofits that are really making an impact."

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 increased the penalties for excessive benefit transactions, including overpayment of nonprofit executives. Accurate, complete, and authoritative information on the nonprofit sector is more important than ever, and the GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report is a comprehensive resource to help nonprofits. Highlights of the report include:

  • Females held 57 percent of CEO positions at organizations with expenses of $1 million or less but only 38 percent at organizations with expenses of greater than $1 million. These numbers were both slight increases over 2007.
  • A trend of the last few years toward larger median compensation increases for incumbent female CEOs continued to hold for 2008. This suggests that women in positions other than CEO are not making the steady gains seen among female CEOs.
  • The larger the organization, the larger the increases in compensation for both male and female CEOs. For example, CEOs at organizations with budgets between $500 thousand and $1 million saw a median increase of 3.8 percent from 2007 to 2008, whereas those at organizations with budgets of greater than $50 million had a median increase of 5.1 percent. Percent increases at all sizes of organizations were generally higher in 2008 than they were in 2007.
  • Health and science organizations had the highest overall median salaries. Food, religion, and youth development organizations brought up the rear.
  • For the fifth straight year, Washington, D.C., had the highest overall median salaries of the 20 largest metropolitan statistical areas, and Riverside-San Bernardino, California, had the lowest. Adjusted for cost of living, San Francisco nonprofit executives again had the lowest median buying power, while those in Detroit had the highest.

"Nonprofits are tasked with documenting to oversight agencies, grantmakers of all types (government, corporations, and private foundations), and individual donors that the salaries and benefits they offer are justified," Chuck McLean, GuideStar's vice president of research and the author of the report, stated. "They should provide information on their compensation practices and be prepared to help their supporters understand why these practices are appropriate."

To view sample pages or purchase the 2010 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report, please visit

About GuideStar

GuideStar connects people and organizations with information on the programs and finances of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.

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